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Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Santa Barbara International Film Festival

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is an eleven-day film festival held in Santa Barbara, California since 1986.

In 2014, the festival screened over 200 films, including feature films and short films, from different countries and regions. Besides screenings, the festival also contains different sections, including celebrity tributes, industry panels and education programs.


Though founded in 1986, the festival has developed and changed over years.

When the present executive director, Roger Durling, first took over in 2002, he was confused by the low attendance of the film festival. It was believed that he noticed the "Sundance Effect" which refers to the popularity of Sundance Film Festival taking place in January. He then decided to move the festival to late January. Durling believed that by holding the film festival just days before Academy Awards in the spring, SBIFF can invite celebrities that have potential to win awards and provide audiences a chance meet them.[1]

Over the years, SBIFF has invited numerous potential award-winning celebrities, including Cate Blanchett, Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Winslet, and Heath Ledger.


It was believed that Santa Barbara International Film Festival tries to shine a light on independent and ethnic film-makers. In the past, Roger Durling saved a third of his festival's slots to films by Hispanic filmmakers in order to better represent Latino population in the area. Durling also decided to add nature films. "Now between you and me, I fall asleep at nature films," he said. '"But hey — they draw a huge crowd." Later, he decided to bring in surf flicks and adventure-sports film that would attract young college students. "Film festivals have a tradition of being for the elite, but they shouldn't be", Durling said. "It should be like a candy store. Anyone should be able to walk in and grab whatever they want."[2]

In the past, the festival has honored numerous independent filmmakers. Organizers of the festival have pointed out that some of their honorees were not the most popular stars, however, they all contributed to the industry at a great level. When Tom Selleck received a salute at SBIFF, Phyllis de Picciotto, the artistic director and founder of the festival back then, said that "He's not a movie star like Sigourney Weaver [another festival honoree], but he's such a special actor who's been all over the place. He's just tremendously appealing."[3]


  • Modern Master Award
  • Santa Barbara Award
  • Outstanding Performance of the Year
  • The American Riviera™ Award
  • Cinema Vanguard Award
  • Virtuosos Award
  • The Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema
  • The Best International Film Award
  • The Nueva Vision Award for the best Spanish/Latin American film
  • Best Documentary Film Award
  • Bruce Corwin Award for Best Live Action Short Film
  • Bruce Corwin Award for Best Animation Short Film
  • The Fund for Santa Barbara Social Justice Award
  • The Audience Choice Award
  • 10-10-10 Student Filmmaking Competition
  • 10-10-10 Student Screenwriting Competition

Santa Barbara Award


Outstanding Performance of the Year Award


American Riviera Award

10-10-10 Student Film Competition

One feature of the film festival is the 10-10-10 competition. Students currently enrolled at Santa Barbara area high schools and colleges are invited to submit either a 10-page sample of writing for the Screenwriting portion of the competition, or a five-minute sample of their best filmmaking efforts for the directing portion. Ten writers are selected to write one 10-minute script each; the scripts are then matched with the ten filmmakers. Those students then have ten days to shoot and edit the completed ten-minute short film, during the ten days of the festival. Films are screened and winners are announced on closing night. A selection committee consisting of representatives from each school, Industry professionals and SBIFF representatives select the participants.

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